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Likes

  • Newfound maturity and bandwidth
  • Improved design inside and out
  • A great all-rounder

Dislikes

  • Huge price hikes
  • C200 could use more muscle
  • Dull steering feel

Australia's relationship status with the Mercedes C-Class has long been… complicated.

Over 40 years and five generations, the German midsized luxury sedan has been a paragon of efficiency and safety on one hand, but on the other, well, the quality and ride comfort haven't lived up to brand expectations.

Now the completely redesigned version has landed in Australia, with shrunken S-Class limousine styling to take on not only the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Genesis G70, but rivals as disparate as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Tesla Model 3.

The question is? Is this latest, sixth-generation, new-from-the-ground-up C-Class good enough to take on all those and more? Let's find out.

Mercedes-Benz C200 2022:

Safety Rating
Engine Type Turbo 4, 2.0L
Fuel Type Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency 7.0L/100km (combined)
Seating 5
Price From $60,830 - $69,960

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
8 / 10

Initially, there are two sedan versions of the new W206 series C-Class on offer – the base C200 from $78,900 before on-road costs, and the more-powerful C300 grade from just over $90,400 before ORC.

There's no sugar coating this. These prices represent a shocking $12,000 and $15,100 jump, respectively, over the outgoing W205 equivalents. Which means that, now, even the cheapest C-Class costs significantly more than any of its corresponding direct rivals.

For example, the Audi A4 35TFSI kicks off from $59,900, Volvo S60 B5 Inscription AWD from $62,490, Genesis G70 2.0T from $63,000, Alfa Romeo Giulia Sport from $63,950 and BMW 320i Sport Collection from $69,900 (drive-away). And even the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range (SR) Plus RWD and Polestar 2 SR EVs slip in at under $60K apiece. All before ORCs, BMW-aside.

It comes with 18-inch alloys.
It comes with 18-inch alloys.

But the news isn't all bad, because even though prices have jumped, Mercedes reckons it gives you more, as well as the very latest in technology, design and engineering, since the W206 is the newest kid on the block by some margin.

Let's begin with equipment levels.

On top of the front electric seats, satellite navigation, automatic parking, dual-zone climate control, artificial leather Mercedes brands ARTICO, digital radio, remote boot lid closing and 18-inch alloys that the base C200 all came with previously, the new one now adds an AMG Line body kit and interior trim, adaptive cruise control, Lane Keep assist, a 360º camera, auto high-beam headlights and keyless entry/start. These go a long way to offset that $12,000 price hike.

It also includes auto high-beam headlights.
It also includes auto high-beam headlights.

Plus, for the first time, you'll also score a centre airbag between the front seats, fingerprint scanner ID tech for the new 11.9-inch media display and a 48V mild-hybrid system to help cut fuel consumption and emissions. Most of these items are segment-firsts. Note, too, that the engine's been downsized from 2.0 litres to 1.5L. More on that later.

Meanwhile, the C300 gains all of the gear above, as well as a new 2.0L mild-hybrid engine, leather trim, privacy glass and a Driver Assistance Package Plus – a very worthwhile addition since it brings Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function, Active Emergency Stop Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist, among heaps more driver-assist safety features.

More details follow in the Safety section below.

The more-powerful C300 grade costs just over ,400 before ORC.
The more-powerful C300 grade costs just over ,400 before ORC.

Of course, these are just the start of a wave of fresh C-Class models. Soon they'll be joined by the AMG 43 and thunderous AMG 63 sports sedans, as well as plug-in hybrid versions.

So, from a pricing perspective, yes, the new C-Class sedan does come at a premium compared to its direct competitors. But all that kit – including the advanced hybridised and safety technologies that are now either standard or available – presents a compelling value proposition.

Especially as the W206 sedan is measurably larger and thus roomier than before.

Is there anything interesting about its design?
9 / 10

If you're checking out the new C-Class for the first time from the front, you'll probably think… hmm, it looks just like the old one, and that's largely true.

But a side view reveals proportions that have changed significantly, thanks to the more raked windscreen, shorter overhangs and cleaner lines, which give it a slightly smaller S-Class look.

Which is more in fitting with where Mercedes wants to place this car against its 3 Series and A4 competitors.



Additionally, the taillights are split for the first time, allowing for a wider boot aperture since the lid now contains some of the lighting elements.

The shrunken limo looks aren't just the whim of some designer or Mercedes-Benz marketing department copywriter, either.

Underneath is an albeit highly modified version of the latest S-Class' MRA2 platform, which results in the longest (at 4755mm) and widest (at 1820mm) C-Class in the series' 40-year existence, as well as the first with this level of electrification capability.

Get used to this new interior aesthetic and general layout.
Get used to this new interior aesthetic and general layout.

Height and wheelbase dimensions also see a stretch, by 8mm and 25mm to 1450mm and 2865mm over the previous model respectively, and to the benefit of passenger accommodation.

Speaking of which, get used to this new interior aesthetic and general layout – it's a look that's probably going to filter through to most coming non-EQ-branded Mercedes models over the next few years.

From S to C to future E and A classes and beyond. It's a rare instance of trickle-down economics actually working!

The shrunken limo looks aren’t just the whim of some designer.
The shrunken limo looks aren’t just the whim of some designer.

How practical is the space inside?
8 / 10

One of the best things about the new C-Class is that it's larger and therefore roomier than before. It's also higher quality, easier to use, more comfortable to sit in and - overall - more of a delight to behold.

In contrast, the old C-Class dash looked and felt like it was designed for a much cheaper car, especially compared to Audi's efforts.

Obviously related to the S-Class this time around, it's clear Tesla provided the inspiration for the twin floating screen look and layout, which are just right in their driver orientation and ease of functionality.

One of the best things about the new C-Class is that it’s larger and therefore roomier than before.
One of the best things about the new C-Class is that it’s larger and therefore roomier than before.

There's never really been anything wrong with Mercedes' old front seats, but these AMG Line items are both sumptuous and bracing, keeping their occupants well located ahead of the clever and thoughtfully laid out dashboard.

The brilliantly high-resolution MBUX multimedia and voice-recognition system now works as it should - intuitively and logically, with the screen menus simple to recognise and easy to use, and most without the need to get lost in confusing sub-menus. Just like BMW has managed for years.

If you want to change the instrumentation design, it's now a couple of clearly marked steps, using handily placed switchgear. The same goes for the superb climate control and audio systems. And the wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connected faultlessly and worked a treat. Effortless see-and-push operation all round, backed by concise and classy graphics.

There’s never really been anything wrong with Mercedes’ old front seats, but these AMG Line items are both sumptuous and bracing.
There’s never really been anything wrong with Mercedes’ old front seats, but these AMG Line items are both sumptuous and bracing.

No more degree in Earth-to-Mercedes comm skills required to master this C-Class interior.

Yet there's just enough old-school Benz features to appeal to brand diehards, from the eternal door-card mounted electric seat controls and column-mounted gear shifter, to the deep centre console and turbine face-level air vents. They meld together beautifully with the advanced tech also on offer, like the optional augmented-reality head-up display with 3D-graphics.

Annoyingly, on one of our test cars, that tradition also extended to a couple of squeaks and rattles, proving that maybe Mercedes hasn't quite conquered all its past quality gremlins. And, like most luxury cars nowadays, endless ambient lighting choices are available of dubious taste.

The brilliantly high-resolution MBUX multimedia and voice-recognition system now works as it should.
The brilliantly high-resolution MBUX multimedia and voice-recognition system now works as it should.

Never mind. This is the finest C-Class front-seat environment since, well, probably the original W210 190E's of the 1980s.

And all those extra dimensions pay dividends in terms of interior space in the back seat.

There's plenty of knee room even with the tester sat behind their 178cm frame; head room is adequate even with the optional sunroof fitted, and there's ample shoulder space. So, it's more comfortable than any C-Class ever has been in terms of sheer dimensions.

There’s just enough old-school Benz features to appeal to brand diehards.
There’s just enough old-school Benz features to appeal to brand diehards.

Additionally, the rear backrest is well angled, while the cushion is deep enough to provide sufficient thigh support. But the centre perch is a bit of a squeeze for all concerned. Best avoided.

There's also added practicality to be found with the large and deep door pockets, front seat-back map pockets and folding centre armrest, that not only has a tablet holder, but when pressed in twice, also reveals sliding cupholders as well. Clever.

The C-Class rear seat is really lacking for nothing, with face-level air vents, overhead lighting, grab handles and coat hooks all highlighting the level of thought that went into making this a practical compact family sedan.

This is the finest C-Class front-seat environment since, well, probably the original W210 190E’s of the 1980s.
This is the finest C-Class front-seat environment since, well, probably the original W210 190E’s of the 1980s.

Plus, the C-Class comes with this folding ski port, which along with the folding rear seats, increases boot volume from 455L to, well, a lot more. While that's not quite as good as others like the BMW 3 Series, it's big enough for this car.

Note that there is no spare wheel, as the tyres are of the limited-distance runflat variety.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?
8 / 10

Probably the biggest departure compared to any previous C-Class is this generation's switch to direct-injection four-cylinder-only powertrains – including the coming Mercedes-AMG high-performance versions. Now that should be interesting.

As mentioned earlier, the C200's four-cylinder turbo engine is now about 25 per cent smaller in capacity, down from 2.0L to a 1496cc 1.5L twin-cam 16-valve turbo engine. Dubbed the M254, it pumps out 150kW of power at a high 6100rpm and 300Nm of torque between 1800-4000rpm.

That's not to say it's lacking in muscle, though, since it can sprint from zero to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds, on the way to a 245km/h top speed. These outputs are at least a match for the bigger-engined 3 Series and A4 equivalents, by the way.

Probably the biggest departure compared to any previous C-Class is this generation’s switch to direct-injection four-cylinder-only powertrains.
Probably the biggest departure compared to any previous C-Class is this generation’s switch to direct-injection four-cylinder-only powertrains.

If it's more you want, then the C300 features a 1999cc 2.0L turbo version of the M254, delivering 190kW at 5800rpm and 400Nm between 2000-3200rpm. This slashes that 0-100km/h time to a speedy six seconds flat. There's also an extra 20kW of overboost available for short periods if you're really in a hurry, while - where legal - it's possible to hit 250km/h.

Both send drive to the rear wheels via a nine-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, while the 48V mild-hybrid system, dubbed EQ Boost, employs an integrated starter-generator and lithium-ion battery that provides an additional 15kW and 200Nm of electric boost at low engine speeds.

So, while it doesn't ever run purely on electricity, the electrification tech certainly either brings more punch or takes the load off the petrol engine, depending on how you're driving it.

How much fuel does it consume?
8 / 10

Remember when I said that the C-Class moved to an all-four-cylinder engine range? Well, that's primarily to help it better meet fuel consumption, efficiency and lower emission targets.

On the Australian combined fuel consumption cycle, the C200 manages 6.9 litres per 100km – and that's extremely impressive for a medium-sized sedan weighing almost 1.8 tonnes. So is the fact that the larger-engined C300 returns only 0.4L/100km more at 7.3L/100km. Fitted with a 66-litre tank, these numbers suggest that the former can average nearly 960km between refills while the latter can manage just over 900km.

These figures translate to averages of 157 and 164 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide emissions respectively. On the flipside, both these Euro-6 emissions rated engines require 98 RON premium unleaded petrol to deliver their best.

So much for lab tests. Out in the real world, we drove both cars for several hundred kilometres on a hot summer's day, from inner Melbourne during peak-hour traffic, to some great curvy rounds out in central Victoria, featuring some tight corners and ample opportunity to really stretch both cars' legs.

Over these routes, we averaged an indicated 8.4L/100km in the C200 and – astonishingly – 7.4L/100km in the C300. Yes, the larger and more powerful engine proved more economical.

Clearly, along with the advanced aerodynamics, engine stop/start system and 48V mild-hybrid tech, all that downsizing works. No wonder Mercedes deemed it unnecessary to bother with diesel engines for this generation C-Class.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty
5 years/unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?
9 / 10

The W206 C-Class has not been crash-tested yet by ANCAP or European affiliate EuroNCAP, so does not have a star rating. However, Mercedes-Benz claims it has striven to create one of the safety vehicles on the planet.

To that end, there are now 10 airbags fitted, including dual-front combined pelvic/thorax airbags, front centre airbag, rear side airbags, window airbags and driver's knee airbag.

Plus, you'll find Autonomous Emergency Braking front and rear (including for cyclists and pedestrians, at speeds from 7km/h to over 200km/h), adaptive cruise control with active stop/go, a 360 degree camera, Active Parking Assist, drowsy driver monitor, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist, ABS anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist, Adaptive Brakes with Hold function, brake drying and Hill Start Assist, electronic stability control, traction control, dusk-sensing LED lights, rain-sensing wipers and runflat tyres with tyre pressure warning.

Mercedes-Benz claims it has striven to create one of the safety vehicles on the planet.
Mercedes-Benz claims it has striven to create one of the safety vehicles on the planet.

The C300, meanwhile, adds Driving Assistance Package Plus, with features such as Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Steering Assist, and Active Stop-and-Go Assist… basically, this is where the car actually intervenes to help avoid accidents and impacts. There's also the PRE-SAFE side accident anticipation and protection system.

Both models also feature two ISOFIX child seat restraints as well as three top tethers for straps.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?
7 / 10

Kudos to Mercedes-Benz for being the first luxury manufacturer in Australia to offer a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty – matching most other mainstream makers. Lexus and Audi have only recently followed suit.

A five-year roadside assistance subscription is also included. Service intervals are 12-monthly or at every 25,000km, whichever occur first.

Kudos to Mercedes-Benz for being the first luxury manufacturer in Australia to offer a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
Kudos to Mercedes-Benz for being the first luxury manufacturer in Australia to offer a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

Additionally, a four-year capped price service plan is available, at $550 for the first year, $900 for the second, $1000 for the third and $2450 for the fourth, totalling $4900.

Alternatively, buyers can also choose three pre-purchase service plans to save a bit of money, but these must be bought prior to the first service.

What's it like to drive?
9 / 10

There has been a philosophical shift in how the C-Class is presented.

Even with their standard-in-Australia AMG Line package, the regular grades like the C200 and C300 are now leaning into the brand's luxury heritage, while the BMW-baiting sports sedan versions will be left to the coming AMG versions.

And this in turn profoundly informs how the W206 drives.

Even with their standard-in-Australia AMG Line package, the regular grades like the C200 and C300 are now leaning into the brand’s luxury heritage.
Even with their standard-in-Australia AMG Line package, the regular grades like the C200 and C300 are now leaning into the brand’s luxury heritage.

Even with the optional Sports Pack on 19-inch wheels, the C200 as tested finally feels like a premium midsized sedan experience. Muted at start up, the 150kW/300Nm 1.5L turbo steps off the line smartly and smoothly, its nine-speed auto shifting effortlessly through the gears to keep the engine feeling lively and lusty.

Around town it's easy to mistake the engine as a larger-capacity unit, since throttle response is instantaneous, with little to no lag detectable. It's a strong start for a base powertrain, especially as the C200 settles into a relaxed cruise at freeway speeds. Cycling through the driving settings also reveals how feisty the 'Sport' mode is.

But the 1.5L's lack of size becomes obvious the moment you need to overtake quickly, or when a quick squirt of acceleration up a hill is required, because the engine needs plenty of revs to approach that 6100rpm power peak. While still pretty brisk in these situations, it's also fairly vocal too, with a sense of having to work hard to maintain momentum.

Switching to the C300 highlights how much better suited the 190kW/400Nm 2.0L turbo is to highway driving.
Switching to the C300 highlights how much better suited the 190kW/400Nm 2.0L turbo is to highway driving.

Switching to the C300 highlights how much better suited the 190kW/400Nm 2.0L turbo is to highway driving, leaping forward with much more force and conviction, across the entire performance spectrum. In every metric, this is a better choice – throttle response, mechanical refinement, cruising ease. And the fact that the onboard computer showed less fuel consumption cements our preference for the larger-hearted C-Class.

In fact, both models possess a chassis that feels like it could do with a whole lot more power. Light and tight around town, the steering weighs up nicely at higher speeds, with a linear and reassuringly planted feel. The same also applies to how confident and controlled the Mercedes feels through fast, tight turns, yet settles into a relaxed and comfortable tourer along long, straight stretches of road.

It's a pity, then, that such dynamic agility and prowess doesn't really involve the driver, since the steering feels quite isolated from what's going on underneath; for the vast majority of C-Class buyers, that's fine. But, as a quick spin in any latest BMW 3 Series or Jaguar XE will reveal, there isn't an intimate, two-way connection going on here. That's probably going to be reserved for the AMG models.

Both models possess a chassis that feels like it could do with a whole lot more power.
Both models possess a chassis that feels like it could do with a whole lot more power.

Our C200 rode on bigger wheels and steel springs, while the C300 was fitted with optional adaptive dampers. In the previous-generation C-Class, the differences would be stark: a busy and jittery ride in the former, compared to soft yet still unsettled suspension in the latter.

That's all ancient history now, as even the 'passively' suspended C200 now isolates its occupants from the rough and tumble of our inconsistent roads. Still firmish, but no longer harsh.

And the C300 with adaptive dampers seems downright plush by comparison, while offering the driver personalisation options within the aforementioned driving models to tailor the steering, performance and engine sound settings that best suit the prevailing mood.

Too bad there's some road and tyre noise intrusion heard inside when driving over coarse bitumen roads.
Too bad there's some road and tyre noise intrusion heard inside when driving over coarse bitumen roads.

Too bad there's some road and tyre noise intrusion heard inside when driving over coarse bitumen roads. This is a common pitfall amongst German vehicles in Australia.

Still, it doesn't detract from the fact that the whole chassis set-up can at-last cushion and cosset occupants like, well, a mini S-Class.

Which is the whole point of the W206 C-Class. It now majors on comfort and reassurance like the better Mercedes-Benz models used to, while still being suave and sprightly enough to be a memorable – if not over-exciting – drive.

As a result, the C300 especially is a much-more likeable car than past iterations. Just remember to tick the adaptive damper option for the most optimal experience. Job well done, Mercedes.

Verdict

Over five decades, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class has pivoted between mastery and mediocrity, and all-too-often relied on that three-pointed star up front to win over buyers.

Thankfully, the W206 is one is one of the better generations. It's easier on the eye, comfier to travel in, more intuitive to use, safer across the board and a huge improvement to drive. On the evidence of the C200 and C300 launch grades, there's newfound depth and consistency to savour.

Sure, prices have gone up, the C200 could use a bit more power, the steering could benefit from a bit more feel, the odd build-quality glitch made itself heard and there's a fair bit of road noise at times, but overall, the C-Class now deserves to be at the top of your luxury medium sedan shopping list.

Particularly if you can afford to stretch to the rorty C300.

Pricing Guides

$69,929
Based on 33 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months.
LOWEST PRICE
$61,800
HIGHEST PRICE
$79,800

Range and Specs

Vehicle Specs Price*
c200 Base 2.0L, Unleaded Petrol, 9 SPEED AUTOMATIC G-TRONIC $60,830 - $69,960
c200 Edition C Mhev 1.5L, Premium Unleaded/Electric, 9 SPEED AUTOMATIC G-TRONIC $70,840 - $81,400
c200 Mhev 1.5L, Premium Unleaded/Electric, 9 SPEED AUTOMATIC G-TRONIC $70,840 - $81,400
See all 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class in the Range
*Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price
Byron Mathioudakis
Contributing Journalist
Byron started his motoring journalism career when he joined John Mellor in 1997 before becoming a freelance motoring writer two years later. He wrote for several motoring publications and was ABC Youth radio Triple J's "all things automotive" correspondent from 2001 to 2003. He rejoined John Mellor in early 2003 and has been with GoAutoMedia as a senior product and industry journalist ever since. With an eye for detail and a vast knowledge base of both new and used cars Byron lives and breathes motoring. His encyclopedic knowledge of cars was acquired from childhood by reading just about every issue of every car magazine ever to hit a newsstand in Australia. The child Byron was the consummate car spotter, devoured and collected anything written about cars that he could lay his hands on and by nine had driven more imaginary miles at the wheel of the family Ford Falcon in the driveway at home than many people drive in a lifetime. The teenage Byron filled in the agonising years leading up to getting his driver's license by reading the words of the leading motoring editors of the country and learning what they look for in a car and how to write it. In short, Byron loves cars and knows pretty much all there is to know about every vehicle released during his lifetime as well as most of the ones that were around before then.
About Author
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication. Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.
Pricing Guide
$61,800
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data.
For more information on
2022 Mercedes‑Benz C‑Class
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